Winnipeg Free Press

Behind the wheel of the Panamera GTS

by Kelly Taylor . May 17 2019
Photos suppliedPorsche Cars Canada spokesman Patrick Saint-Pierre says of the Panamera GTS: ‘We think this vehicle is for someone who already appreciates what the brand is about and is looking for a little bit more.’

Photos supplied

Porsche Cars Canada spokesman Patrick Saint-Pierre says of the Panamera GTS: ‘We think this vehicle is for someone who already appreciates what the brand is about and is looking for a little bit more.’

SCARBOROUGH, Ont. — The Porsche Cayenne and Macan models attracted an entirely new set of customers to the brand, stealing sales from other brands’ crossovers and growing the company’s customer base.

The Panamera GTS — brilliant though it may be — will be no such vehicle.

“This isn’t what we’d typically call a conquest vehicle,” said Patrick Saint-Pierre, spokesman for Porsche Cars Canada.

“Where the Cayenne and Macan brought in a whole wave of customers who hadn’t looked at Porsche before, we think this vehicle is for someone who already appreciates what the brand is about and is looking for a little bit more.”

The recently released GTS version of its premium sedan and wagon models is expected to cater to either existing Panamera drivers trading up or Boxster, Cayman or 911 customers looking to add a sedan or wagon to their personal fleets.

Saint-Pierre said the company doesn’t expect there to be a rash of non-customers who dismissed the Panamera until it came out with the unique combination of features added to the GTS models, adding most of the features unique to the GTS were available previously.

Jonathan Thomson, product planning manager for Porsche Cars Canada, said the GTS brings together an array of performance and cosmetic options and prices them as a package at a nearly $8,000 discount off what the retail price would be if added piecemeal to a Panamera.

The list of options added to Panamera to produce the GTS is exhaustive. Some highlights: GTS sport-design body kit; air suspension with a 10-mm drop; tinted LED tail lights; 20-inch black wheels; black window surrounds; four-way adaptive air spoiler from the Panamera Turbo; sport exhaust; sport chrono package with sport response button (more on that later); launch control; alcantara leather steering wheel; 18-way sport seats (up from eight-way); and 4.0-litre V-8 engine.

“We were able to keep a V8 engine,” Thomson said. He said the GTS is the lightest premium performance vehicle in the segment, which shows in the sprint times: it runs to 100 km/h in 4.1 seconds. The twin-turbo V8 in the GTS is detuned a bit from the turbo model, but still packs a wallop, with 453 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque.

Our drive took us from Scarborough east to Prince Edward County along some twisty roads that weren’t in the best condition. The GTS maintained Porsche’s reputation for providing a surprising blend of road-holding ability with a soft, compliant ride that tightens up nicely when needed. The air suspension is responsible for that.

The sport response button feels like a throwback to flipping a switch for nitrous oxide injection: it closes the waste gates of the turbos, remaps the throttle response and tightens the shift pattern of the transmission, all to give 20 seconds’ worth of added power. It is a noticeable boost, handy for passing. Of course, on the public roads north of Port Hope, it wouldn’t have been proper to give it a full workout. Or at least, that’s my story...

Thomson said the Panamera has been a success story for Porsche, more than holding its own in a soft market.

“The market’s pretty much been flat for the past 20 years,” he said, referring to the premium sedan segment.

“Panamera is up 86 per cent from 2012 to 2018.”

The price? What’s that saying about, “if you have to ask...”? The Panamera GTS starts at $146,200 for the sedan and $153,300 for the Sport Turismo. Of course, it wouldn’t be Porsche if there weren’t a dizzying array of options, even for a package deal such as the GTS.

I was able to get the price north of $200,000 without breaking a sweat, thanks to such options as ceramic composite brakes, rear-seat entertainment, carbon fibre trim and custom leather colours inside.

With a model such as the GTS giving existing Panamera customers a reason to trade up — or customers of other Porsche models to expand their fleet — the Panamera GTS is likely to grow the Porsche customer base, even if it’s not a so-called conquest model.

kelly.taylor@freepress.mb.ca